Lloyd Cole & Hans-Joachim Roedelius - Selected Studies 1
Unlikely partnership bears fruits of mellow electronica and blissed-out glitch
I'll confess to raising an eyebrow or two when I read about this as a forthcoming project but, after a swift glance through Lloyd Cole's solo works, in particular his Plastic Wood material on the Recordings box-set over a decade ago, it's easy to hear the connection. Coupled with the man's keen interest in German rock and electronica, Cluster's Hans-Joachim Roedelius is a natural choice for some variable stabs at electronica on display here.
And by 'variable', I don't mean in quality - Selected Studies Vol 1 is no idle canter through experimental backwaters or self-indulgent flim-flam, rather it's a warm collaboration between two like-minded musicians whose only previous communication had been by post, as a result of a friend of Cole sending a copy of Plastic Wood to Roedelius, who promptly remixed it and sent it back. Mutual admiration grew until a decade later when the two vowed to collaborate properly. And here it is.
From the pretty melodic opening piece Pastoral to the graceful and aptly-titled Lullerby, you have a smorgasbord of the fidgety, the tranquil and the cyclical, without much of it repetitive enough to be tagged 'dull'. That opening slice of chill-out heaven reminds me of the instrumentals that Japan's Steve Jansen and Richard Barbieri were issuing in the '80s, while other reasonable comparisons to make might be (obviously) Eno, Fennesz, Autechre, a large chunk of Sky's roster (almost certainly Asmus Tietchens) and John Foxx's recent DNA project. Pick any one of the ten tracks on here and you'll hear a resemblance in part.
Perhaps the most contemporary counterpoint is offered up by Still Life with Kannyu, a fusion of sedate classical piano tones (think Moby), buzzy random laptop energy and gently unfolding atmospherics that, by turns, draw you in and push you away. It's really rather lovely. TangoLango is a more expansive take on documentary music, all jungle-noises and a hurried soundtrack of tense moods and water-drop percussion, while Orschel wouldn't sound out of place on a Boards of Canada album. And if you want The Normal's TVOD turned into a bonkers analog freak-out, head to Fehmarn F/O - you won't be disappointed. And there's no singing either.
A couple of pieces overdo the 'let's see what happens when you press this button' theory but, overall, Cole and Roedelius have created something of a treasure here.